Trans-Tasman Trip Preparations [64]

NSW Sea Kayak Club members, James Castrission and Justin Jones are planning to kayak from Australia to New Zealand later this year. Sue Webber asked James for the latest news on their trip.

How are your plans going?

Plans are kicking along nicely. As with any large expedition, there have been countless ups and downs. So long as we keep Auckland on the horizon we’ll get there! We reached the critical turning point with funding toward the end of July which has ensured that the expedition is definitely on for the coming summer. We now have a great team of sponsors on board including Australian Geographic, Resi Mortgage Corporation, Suunto, Icebreaker, Kokotat, FGI and Pittarak.

Have you got all the sponsorship you wanted?

We are a little over half way with the sponsorship. Gear sponsors have been fantastic, however, sourcing the funding for this Trans Tasman kayak is proving considerably more difficult. Since returning from Bass Strait in April, we have committed full time to this project. Resi Mortgage Corporation and Australian Geographic have been fantastic in providing a significant chunk of the funding to construct the kayak. We have numerous tiers for sponsorship and would appreciate some fellow sea kayakers digging deep and give us a helping hand! Please shoot us an email: and we can get a sponsorship proposal to you immediately.

Do you have the kayak and equipment sorted out?

The kayak is currently being constructed. We are in the process of sourcing all the equipment that we have identified as necessary for this expedition.

What are you taking?

We will take everything that is needed to be completely self sufficient for over 60 days.

Some of the equipment will include:

  • Water desalinators
  • Satellite phone
  • Tracking Beacons
  • 406MHz GPS EPIRBs
  • GPS
  • Safety raft
  • Survival suits
  • Radar Transponder
  • VHF Radio
  • Sleeping gear
  • 200kg food
  • 250-300litres water
  • Solar panels
  • Batteries
  • Bilge systems
  • Max Power Methanol fuel cell
  • Music player (kept waterproof by H2O Audio casings)

How will you set the kayak up?

Imagine a traditional double kayak, we’ve added 3m to its stern, behind the rear paddler, where we have a pod-like cabin that is 95cm high (interior) and 1 metre wide at its widest beam. Looking forward from the cockpits we have another storage area that has been made significantly larger than your normal forward compartment. This section is approximately an additional 300mm deeper than a traditional kayak.

How will you carry the necessary food and water?

We will be taking food for 60 days based on a high caloric intake of approx 6000 calories / per day. This diet will consist of dehydrated meals, power bars, muesli, scroggin etc. We will be taking flameless heating rations so as to avoid the added excitement of having to deal with a flame on board a small vessel. It is important to be able to heat meals to provide warmth and boost morale.

The boat will have between 250-350L of water along the hull. This is one of the factors assisting in the crafts self self-righting ability. We will have two water desalination units on board to facilitate a budgeted 5L water per person per day.

Do you have a leaving date set?

9 December from the Australian National Maritime Museum, Cockle Bay, Sydney. Hope to see you down there!

How much will when you leave depend on the weather?

The timing of the expedition will be facilitated by Roger Badham, one of Australia’s foremost ocean weather forecasters. Ideally, we’d like westerly assistance to get us of off the East Australian continental shelf before we get hit by heavy weather.

What sort of weather conditions would be best for the crossing?

Nice and flat like it is down a river!

How are you preparing physically for the trip? Have you been sleeping in the kayak?

The kayak began construction at the start of August and is scheduled to be completed mid-October. Sea trials and testing will then begin. Getting out on the water kayaking is the number one way to train. In addition to that we have been doing extensive cross training. This involves anything from targeted gym sessions, rock climbing, running, tramping, cycling etc. For any paddler who is serious about improving their training – the Suunto T6 is a great tool. With its GPS POD you can analyse speeds, distances, heart rates, training zones and EPOC. In addition, an eye can be kept on the weather when offshore with its barometer.

What have you leant from other people’s attempts at this crossing?

Preparation is the key. No stone can be left unturned in addressing the issues that will be faced out there. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. We have spent numerous hours studying large kayaking expeditions and small vessel passages. Inspiration has been sought from the likes of Peter Bray’s 2001 Atlantic Crossing, Ed Gilllet’s Pacific trip and Andrew McCaluey’s Bass Strait direct and his Gulf crossing. For those paddlers who enjoy a good read you can’t go past Hannes Lindemann’s “Alone at Sea”. What an epic tale back in the 1950’s.

What do you think will be the most difficult aspect of the journey?

Being holed up in the cabin during heavy weather. It will feel like being trapped like the Beaconsfield miners, but being thrown around as if we were in a washing machine.

What are you most looking forward to?

Getting out on the water and doing some paddling… a lot of paddling.

How long have you been members of NSWSKC?

One and a half years.

Has being a club member assisted you in any way?

Not yet. Come on guys, jump on board and help us out! Please shoot us an email at: or give James a call on 0402 904 334.

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